Archive for the ‘General Videography’ Category

It’s no surprise that many big name brands can afford to undertake large-scale video production exclusively for the web. Some call them “webisodes.” Others call them web documentaries. In either case, creating and publishing a web video series showcases a brand’s professed values, mission and purpose. A web video series also usually promotes specific products or services.

Take, for example, Dawn Dish Soap’s web video series “The Big Picture.” This series shows how Dawn is helping wildlife and explains how their dish soap helps clean animals affected by oil.

Though big brands such as Dawn, Target and Ikea rule the web video series world, smaller, local brands can produce a professional web video series on a much smaller budget to boost their brand online. Generally, such web video series can be produced on budgets between $10K-$20K for 5-10 videos.

I’ve been helping to produce a web video series for Minnesota Philanthropy Partners since 2010 called “Nonprofits to KnowTM.” I work with a great team of program officers and marketing folks who identify the nonprofits to feature in the series. I then brief the featured nonprofits on the production process and requirements, and film and produce the videos. Since 2010, I’ve helped MN Partners produce more than 30 Nonprofits to KnowTM videos.

I’ve also produced a web video series for a local food coop, Valley Natural Foods, spotlighting their featured vendors: local farmers and vendors whose products appear in the store. The web video series worked in tandem with the monthly print newsletter the coop published.

A web video series can boost your brand in ways no single promotional video ever could.

Here are five big ways:

1 – Stand out as a Thought Leader

A web video series can help you demonstrate insider knowledge of a process, community or an issue and establish your brand as a “thought leader.” In digital marketing terms, a thought leader is an individual or organization that is seen as an authority in a given subject area by their followers or fans. For many businesses and nonprofits, thought leadership can be equated to influence and awareness. Does your organization aspire to be sought out for its knowledge of the staffing industry or its work on health care? A web video series may help it stand out as a go-to resource for questions on a given topic.

PRO TIP: If you create a web video series, be sure to create a homepage where all the videos in the series can live as a sort of web video library, especially if each episode is topical.

2 – Build brand awareness and affinity

Depending on its popularity and how successfully you present your brand, a web video series can win hearts. Successful videos get shared on social media and viewers return for subsequent episodes. And, if viewers like the web videos, they develop an affinity for your organization and another level of awareness of your work, values and impact. This worked especially well for Old Spice. Their web video series built brand awareness and affinity with a new generation of customers who may have previously thought of Old Spice as the distinct smelling cologne dad or grandpa used to wear. Today, Old Spice is one of the most popular bodywash products in the marketplace.

PRO TIP: Use humor and creativity carefully. If possible, employ a creative agency to come up with the funny stuff.

3 – Validate your product or service

A web video series can provide a powerful form of validation by showing—not just telling—how your products or services work. Dawn Dish Soap is prominently featured in episode 1 of their web series helping clean oil from the feathers of a duckling. The implication? It’s safe enough for a baby animal and works on thick industrial pollutants, so it will work in your kitchen.

PRO TIP: Featuring your product in the video series should not be forced. If viewers feel they’re just watching a TV commercial, they may be turned off … or just turn off your video.

4 – Tell more brand stories, but “bite-sized”

A web video series provides your brand the opportunity to tell multiple, bite-sized stories. Today’s web audience attention span is pretty short. In some cases, only 5 seconds long! As brand evangelists, we often want to talk our audience’s ear off about how great our products and services are and how many others have benefitted from them. But, those stories need to be short, to the point and they must resonate on an emotional level. A web video series allows you to tell many stories that all point to a greater truth: your organization can provide solutions that work.

5 – It’s content marketing gold

We all know that social media requires constant feeding. Your brand presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest will fade after just a few days or weeks of inactivity. A web video series presents your social media managers with a treasure trove of quality content to share. And, if tied appropriately into your larger organizational goals and marketing plan, a web series can be a critical component to your content marketing strategy.

PRO TIP: Start by reviewing your organization’s strategic goals, refer to your brand guidelines and then develop a content marketing plan that includes all forms of content that you have at your disposal (print, web, social, etc.). Then, develop the web video series within that context. The web video series should ultimately help you in meeting your organization’s strategic goals.



Smartphones cost way too much to be used just to text, call, surf and email. In this presentation for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits annual technology and communication conference, I showed how your Smartphone can be used to create stunning photographs and sophisticated videos worthy of representing your organization. In plain English, I demonstrate how your Smartphone can be used to create rich multimedia content and shave hours (and dollars) off your social media “to do” list. Don’t fear your smartphone. Master it!

Thanks to a buddy who let me play around with the Canon 5D Mark II, I figured out a useful trick for precision focusing in HD video mode on the Nikon D300s. When in Live View mode (either handheld or tripod mode) you can use the + and – buttons on the left of the viewfinder to digitally zoom in on your subject. Then, use the AF button to focus (or manually do so) and zoom back out. Presuming you don’t move the camera and your subject stays still, you can now rest assured your footage will be in focus. This tip is particularly helpful when using a shallow depth of field on bright days or when you don’t have a viewfinder eyepiece.

Now that I’ve been operating much more in the nonprofit world and much less in the journalism world, it’s rare that I find myself chasing down those random video stories that cross my path.

But, I’ve been in the mood to commit random acts of journalism lately. I’m currently in Madison, WI conducting a 3-day “Multimedia Journalism Bootcamp” for the faculty of the Madison Area Technical College’s journalism program. I was out and about the state capital when I came across some street performers slinging fire around on chains and couldn’t help myself. I was compelled to shoot video and ask them to tell me a little about their art and themselves.

That’s the nature of a really good story, I think—it begs to be told, to be explored.

So many reporters at so many newspapers and television stations have been battered by the constant drum of doom and gloom in the industry, or the demanding focus on learning news skills, new technology and new ways of doing things that it can be easy to neglect our sense of curiosity. The news stories or video projects that get us excited and the ones that perplex us, yet compel us to get to bottom of things can often get lost.

Heaven forbid such a story should fall outside our work hours, say at 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night in a park square in Madison, WI. I could have been inside watching a movie and eating pizza, but I happened to be out exploring a new city. That’s when I met Sean, a construction worker by day who liked to go to raves and learned to swing balls of fire in a dizzying display of skill and dexterity. I met Paul, a student who sports a mohawk and dropped out of school, but aspires to return to study horticulture or engineering. He’s also hoping he can make a little cash swinging fire, which he does with flair and expertise.

It wasn’t a long video and it tells only a small part of their story, but it represents the potential of curiosity satisfied. The final product is an engaging video that inspires even more curiosity. It’s one of the things I just remembered that I love about journalism.

The Apple iPad is ideal for your photography or videography business and is available from Apple starting at $499.

I stopped by the Apple Store this evening to check out the iPad. The ultimate gadget geek that I am, I just had to pick one up and play around. And, being the gadget geek I am, my mind churned over all the possible reasons I needed one. Those of you with your own photography or videography business know the drill, another piece of equipment your heart yearns for, so you desperately begin searching for a reason, any reason, to expense it.

Alas, I didn’t come up with a significant justification for buying one to actually fork out the money. (Wife would have killed me anyway) But, I did get a better understanding of how it would benefit me, particularly as a photographer and videographer.

*Thanks to Michael Sherlock for the video demo.

Salesperson’s best friend

The iPad, with its convenient size and shape would be a great sales tool. The display and touch interface make it fantastic for flipping through photo portfolios, zooming in and out with a pinch. I can’t imagine a bride or commercial client that wouldn’t have fun flicking through your best work with this tablet in hand. I met so many of my brides, along with the fiancees and mothers, at local coffee shops. This tablet PC would be perfect for looking through proofs and sampling my best wedding videos. The 9.7 inch (diagonal) display is a perfect compromise between portability and a comfortable viewing experience. The iPad also features speakers, though in a noisy environment you’ll need headphones.

Photographer’s caddy

Apple's iPad Camera Connection Kit goes for $29

You can download photos directly to the iPad from your camera using the iPad camera connection kit ($29). The iPad supports standard picture formats including .jpg and RAW. This would make it ideal for proofing photos on the go and sharing them with friends, clients or fellow photographers. (more…)